BIM 011: Various Artists: October Meeting 2016, Live at the BIMhuis

BIM 011: Various Artists: October Meeting 2016, Live at the BIMhuis
BIM 011: Various Artists: October Meeting 2016, Live at the BIMhuis
Label: BIMHuis Records
Catalog Number: BIM 011
Availability: In Stock
Price: €15.50
Harald Austbø
Reinier Baas
Joachim Badenhorst
Olie Brice
John Dikeman
Kaja Draksler
Petter Eldh
Yedo Gibson
Onno Govaert
Alexander Hawkins
Oscar Jan Hoogland
Gerri Jäger
Sofia Jernberg
Morris Kliphuis
Christian Lillinger
Mette Rasmussen
Ada Rave
Joris Roelofs
Susana Santos Silva
Jasper Stadhouders
Ziv Taubenfeld
Raphael Vanoli
Friday 10/07/2016 Saturday 10/08/2016
1 Waterzooi & Dame Vostre Doulz Viaire Ziv Taubenfeld clarinet, Joachim Badenhorst clarinet Joris Roelofs clarinet, Onno Govaert drums 10:27
2 Untitled Mette Rasmussen saxophone, Ada Rave saxophone, Kaja Draksler piano, Susana Santos Silva trumpet 11:38
3 Gigi's Lament & Muziqawi Silt Sofia Jernberg voice, Alexander Hawkins piano 12:59
4 The Dog (that bit me) Susana Santos Silva trumpet, Mette Rasmussen saxophone, Alexander Hawkins piano, Petter Eldh bass, Christian Lillinger drums 9:28
5 Untitled Yedo Gibson reeds, Alexander Hawkins piano, Olie Brice bass, Christian Lillinger drums 13:45
6 Concept Worst Sofia Jernberg voice, Joachim Badenhorst saxophone, Raphael Vanoli guitar, Petter Eldh bass, Gerri Jäger drums 14:08
7 Bolly Blood Blues Joris Roelofs clarinet, Ziv Taubenfeld clarinet, Joachim Badenhorst saxophone, Olie Brice bass, Petter Eldh bass, Harald Austbø cello 6:30
Total playing time: 79:06:00
Sunday 10/09/2016
1 Mixed Harald Austbø cello, Alexander Hawkins piano, Olie Brice bass, Petter Eldh bass, Christian Lillinger drums, Onno Govaert drums 23:06
2 Untitled Mette Rasmussen saxophone, Jasper Stadhouders guitar, Petter Eldh bass, Christian Lillinger drums 10:12
3 Layers & Speeds Morris Kliphuis french horn, Susana Santos Silva trumpet, Joris Roelofs clarinet, Harald Austbø cello, Alexander Hawkins piano, Olie Brice bass, Gerri Jäger drums 12:50
4 Untitled John Dikeman saxophone, Olie Brice bass, Onno Govaert drums 9:57
5 Requiem Graduale Harald Austbø cello, Joachim Badenhorst saxophone, Ziv Taubenfeld clarinet, Joris Roelofs clarinet 7:40
6 Adelante Joachim Badenhorst clarinet, Joris Roelofs clarinet, Ziv Taubenfeld clarinet, Reinier Baas guitar 6:24
7 Practical Music Jasper Stadhouders gitaar, Oscar Jan Hoogland machines, analogue synth, electric clavichord, record players and other playback devices, Christian Lillinger drums 9:38
Total playing time: 79:44:00

In 1987 and 1991 Huub van Riel--who stepped down from his role as Bimhuis artistic director in the fall of 2017 after a 40-year run--organized the October Meeting in Amsterdam, two improvised music summits that sent tremors around the creative music world. Those gatherings, at the old Bim, brought together a multi-generational, international cast--including American avant-garde pioneers like Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and Sunny Murray, European iconoclasts such as Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, and Fred Van Hove, and then-up-and-comers like Wolter Wierbos, Ab Baars, Mark Dresser, and Marilyn Crispell--that forged new bonds, formed new partnerships, and raised the profile of an approach that had lurked in the shadows for too long: free improvisation. Not everything that occurred on those occasions revolved around that discipline—at the first summit John Zorn celebrated the compositions of pianist Misha Mengelberg, while at the second Mengelberg played Thelonious Monk, among other composition-based endeavors—but the practice of instant composition reached a new apotheosis at both meetings, which arguably doubled as a who’s who of improvised music at the time. Following in the footsteps of Derek Bailey’s legendary Company gatherings, October Meeting helped solidify a practice “where the bands were improvised on the spot in the same manner as the music,” as Art Lange wrote in Downbeat after attending the 1987 iteration.
Naturally, much has changed in the music world since then, and when van Riel decided to present a third October Meeting in 2016 he had no choice but to set stricter parameters. The number of improvisers around the world has exploded in the last couple of decades, and the practice has blossomed outside of its jazz roots. The first two editions of October Meeting extended more than a week each, while the 2016 installment last three days, and participation was limited to Europeans (although players like Yedo Gibson, John Dikeman, and Ada Rave have come to the continent from the Americas) with an emphasis on younger voices—nearly everyone was under 35 when they came together. The musicians spent a few days before the concerts took place rehearsing, improvising, and forming new constellations—many suggested by van Riel--but even when certain groupings opted for composed material, they were flying by the seat of their pants.
Some of the musicians were awestruck by the legacy of the early October Meetings: British pianist Alexander Hawkins joked that looking at the lineups is “sort of musical fantasy football,” but he says, “for me the only way to be true to what’s beautiful about the music which has gone before is to do our own thing, to be informed by what’s happened before but not to be hobbled by it. Others, like drummer Gerri Jågger and reedist Ziv Taubenfeld, were largely unaware of the early editions. Still, as Taubenfeld, an Israeli-reedist based in Amsterdam, notes, “Like many other traditions, being part of a continuum is inspiring.” Either way, there is little doubt that these 22 musicians followed their own collective paths. I was thrilled to attend the concerts and surprised when van Riel enlisted me as a last-minute emcee for the festivities—giving me a taste of the spontaneous action. There was no missing the sense of amity developing among the participants; while plenty of the musicians already knew one another, and, in some cases, had worked together previously, others were on the fringe of the hard-core improv scene, whether the French horn player Morris Kliphuis, who often works in new music circles, or reedist Joris Roelofs, who primarily plays in modern jazz contexts.

As with nearly all improvised music performances the results were uneven, but a spirit of discovery and adventure held the proceedings together, coupled with an infectious sense of joy. Rave says, “I believe that a good atmosphere was created between all of us during the whole event, not only between musicians, also with the whole crew of Bimhuis--working backstage, organizing schedules, solving technical issues, and many more things--and the programmers. The feeling of camaraderie was essential to have three beautiful evenings with so diverse, intense and spontaneous concerts.”

Says Hawkins, “I found that the relationship between 'process' and 'outcome' was especially fascinating. I think it's old news, but nonetheless true, that improvised music is interesting because of the process, and this was magnified since in many ways we were seeing the processes played out for the very first time live on stage. Of course, various combinations opted to work with more predetermined compositional elements, rehearsed in the morning and afternoons of performance days, and therefore played out some of the very earliest dynamics of musical meetings in private, but we were, nonetheless, able to watch these groups stressed or galvanized for the first time by the energy of a debut public performance.”

Selecting the music for the release was a daunting task, as I wrestled with representing the participants and balancing approaches. Some groups improvised freely, others relied on loose frameworks, while others yet brought life to compositions created in other contexts, whether cellist Harald Austbø’s “Requiem Graduale” or Kliphuis’ “Layers & Speeds,” tailored for these constellations, and incorporating varying amounts of improvisation. Jäger only knew that he would work with bassist Petter Eldh, singer Sofia Jernberg, reedist Joachim Badenhorst, and guitarist Raphael Vanoli for his quintet project he named the Stug. “The idea was to do something contrary to the mostly acoustic free improvisation and ‘nu-jazz’ tunes during the October Meeting,” he says.” I had the idea to do a semi-structured improvisation using the sound and rhythm of pop music and play with it freely; instant composing free-pop, if you will.” He asked for atmospheric lighting and enhanced sub frequencies for the amplification of kick drum, elements that would been alien at the earlier editions of the gathering.

The Stug is one of several configurations birthed at October Meeting that has taken on a life of its own since the meeting.  A first-time trio with Eldh, pianist Kaja Draksler, and drummer Christian Lillinger has become a working band called Punkt.Vrt.Plastik, while a dazzling quartet with saxophonists Rave and Mette Rasmussen, Draksler, and trumpeter Susana Santos Silva has carried on under the name Hearth. Pianist Hawkins, who has worked regularly with the brilliant Ethiopian composer Mulatu Astatke as a member of London’s Heliocentrics, made an inspiring duo with Jernberg, a Swede of Ethiopian descent; their medley of modern and traditional has led to an going project called Musho. A project that makes a more conscious nod to jazz history emerged from casual discussions more than a year prior to the October Meeting, when both Hawkins and Draksler were giving solo concerts at London’s Café Oto. They were hanging out at the club with van Riel, where they shared their passion for the music of Cecil Taylor. An idea blossomed in van Riel’s mind, and he proposed a performance at the October Meeting that would include an interpretation of the pianist’s classic 1961 piece “Mixed,” featuring both pianists working in a septet with bassists Eldh and Olie Brice, drummers Lillinger and Onno Govaert, and cellist Austbø. As you can hear on the CD, the players built on the tune, shifting the focus originally on horns to strings, with a wonderful blend of bowed cello and bass, and the clangorous-then-lyrical piano pile-ups.

While the festival may not have necessarily altered the trajectories of every musician, nor led to ongoing new groups, it felt as if the inspiration and creative energy of every participant was unquestionably lifted. Jäger says, “It was very inspiring to hear these people play, and in that way it really challenged me to play at my highest level.”

Hawkins enthusiastically avers on the October Meeting’s positive outcome: “from the nuts and bolts of countless groups with criss-crossing personnel trying to carve out mutually suitable rehearsal times during the days, to the more general sense of shared purpose by a group of people engaged in a common enterprise, who might not otherwise have intersected, but did so thanks to Huub's vision.” Of course, van Riel’s legacy helming the Bimhuis is rife with such plaudits, and the October Meetings are just but a chapter in his epic book, but as one of this last major projects it provides an excellent epilogue—recognizing, fostering, and bringing together new talent to help assure and strengthen the music’s bright future.
Peter Margasak
Chicago, January 2018
Recording Engineer: Micha de Kanter
Live 2-track recording at the BIMHUIS Radio Studio
Editing & Mastering: Chris Weeda
Liner notes: Peter Margasak
Production: Jurre Wieman, Alexandra Mientjes
Artistic direction October Meeting: Huub van Riel
Cover design: Mart. Warmerdam & Eric Smilde
Artwork design: Egbert Luijs
Photography: Arold van der Aa, Marcel Bakker, Stephen Cropper, Stanislav Dobak, Jon Edergren, Gunnar Eldh, Patrick Essex, Peter Gannushkin, Ziga Koritnik, Christer Mannikus, Maarten Mooiman, Krijn van Noordwijk, Francesca Patella, David Rodriguez Salas, Willem Schwertmann, Wanja Salvin, Sophia Veber de Damitio, Bokkie Vink
This CD is produced in collaboration with Dutch Performing Arts / Fonds Podiumkunsten
Piet Heinkade 3
1019 BR Amsterdam
The Netherlands